Design and Development of an Electronic Performance Enhancement Tool for Creating and Maintaining Information Management Web Sites

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Virginia Tech


This study explored the design and development of an electronic performance enhancement tool that can assist a person with limited programming skills to create a variety of simple customized information management websites. In particular, this study was modeled after needs within an Instruction Technology department in which individuals were able to create pre-functional web pages with various elements such as textboxes and dropdown menus but lacked the programming skills necessary to add functionality to these web forms. Skilled programmers could add functionality to these pre-functioning web forms or create customized information management websites from scratch. However, programmers are not always available when needed. At the time of this study, there was no readily available way for persons to create customized information management websites without the services of a programmer or without needing to learn programming skills themselves. This study sought to determine what functionalities, characteristics and capabilities could be included in an electronic performance enhancement tool to assist non-programmers to create simple customized information management websites and how a tool with such functionalities, characteristics and capabilities could be designed and developed. A prototype version of such tool (named the Form And DataBase Interaction Tool or "FADBIT") was designed and developed in this study. This tool asks users who have created simple pre-functional web forms to answer a series of questions related to those webforms. Given the user's responses to these questions, this tool is able to form a metalanguage representation of the user's intentions for the web form and can translate this representation into useful programming code to add the desired functionality. The tool was successfully designed and developed using a generalized modular framework, and a Create-Adapt-Generalize model, with each module addressing one or more patterns common to web programming. The prototype tool successfully allowed non-programmers to create functional information websites for two structured evaluation projects, and achieved some level of success and encountered some difficulties with an unstructured project. Proposed modifications and extensions to the tool to address the difficulties encountered are presented.



Programming, Web Design, Electronic Performance Support Systems, metaprogramming, FADBIT, Dreamweaver, Web Forms, Databases, Cold Fusion